The world is a big and scary place

A remarkable friend wrote some words of advice to me while I was having a pretty rotten time of things some years ago.

At times the best of friends tell you things you need to know, but you don’t want to hear; much as a parent tries to impart wisdom to their child with an unintended harshness, that belies the deep love with which it is given.

It is a touchstone in my life now, both in times of sadness and times of joy.

“Today’s lesson:

The world is a big and scary place.

The good guys don’t always win and there are people out there who won’t think twice about anything that doesn’t directly benefit themselves.

This is how things are, how they always were and how they will be for the rest of this forever.

There are people who give and give and give,  until there is nothing left of themselves and they disintegrate into bitterness and regret.

There are people who take and take and take because they think they are entitled to love and happiness without giving anything in return.

In the midst of all the hurt, loneliness and confusion, all we have are the links we forge betwixt our shared hopes, fears & loves.

That, however, is no small thing. It is, in fact, the greatest thing of all.

You are never alone.

Please don’t forget that.”

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A victory for fairness, inclusion and common sense

If you follow British politics you will probably be reading this out of interest for my motivations for joining four other recent members of the Labour Party in a High Court action against the party, to stop the exclusion of nearly 130,000 other members in their current leadership election.

There is much to write about this – there are parallels with the fight in America for the democratic representation of Bernie Sanders, for example – but that is for a longer and different discussion.

This statement I hope sets out as succinctly as possible, why we took the action and my views on this historic win for party members and more widely (I believe) for democratic inclusion, fairness and common sense.

“This case was always about fairness and inclusion. The Labour Party has seen the greatest surge in membership of any party in decades; with people joining to support a process of change in this country. A change that is desperately needed, both politically and economically. A change that benefits the many and not just the few.

As a recent Labour Party member and an enthusiastic convert from an almost life-long supporter of the Conservative Party, it was sadly perverse to then find that the NEC decided to exclude myself and nearly a quarter of its party’s membership from fairly taking part in the democratic process of the leadership election. That it decided to exclude so very many from the political process and the ideals of the party itself.

The Labour Party has defended its case on the basis that the promises it made to members were aspirations, rather than a binding agreement; and that its executive committee has a right to change the rules at any time, however it likes, even retroactively. It is deeply ironic that the NEC tried to argue that the illegal manipulation of the party’s rules was necessary in order to prevent manipulation of its political process, whilst then offering voting inclusion to any who could afford the expense of a £25 charge.

This judgement is a vindication that the political process should be fair, democratic and inclusive; that political parties, like any other organisation, must uphold its rules fairly to those who support them. More widely, this is a victory for equality and inclusion. Political parties must keep their promises, just as we all reasonably expect anyone else to in other aspects of our lives.

I am deeply grateful for the support of so many: the donations of over 1,700 people to support the substantial costs in taking this action for democracy, and of course Kate Harrison and all on the legal team that have provided such kind and professional work in this matter.”